Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Fancy Schmancy Pretzels

Today I thought I'd share one of my new favorite last minute gift/party favor/bake sale ideas....Gourmet Pretzels! They are deceptively easy, impressive, delicious and decadent, and their Sweet/Salty flavor combination makes them a winner.

Gourmet Pretzel Rods, inspired entirely by a recipe I found in that happy cyber place called Allrecipes. Sigh. I love AR. Here's the recipe that caught my eye:


Now you'll notice, I did shake things up a bit. I do that. I rarely follow a recipe to a "T", when I first made them for a bake sale in November I opted to dress them up a bit. The great thing about these is you can use your imagination, and if giving out as gifts, give a couple different flavors to each person. Besides, I just happened to have a bag of caramels (for the caramel apples that never happened), and several open half empty (of half full, depending on how you look at things!) bags of various chips, mini-M&M's, Heath bits....I not only made some yummy treats, but I also cleaned out my pantry! (Well....one shelf anyway...)

For now, here's what I used...

1 14-oz. bag of caramel squares
1 tbsp. water
1 12-oz. bag long pretzel rods (I used Rold Gold)
Mini M&M's
Crushed Heath Toffee Bits (you could certainly use the chocolate covered bit - I didn't this time)
White chocolate chips
Semi-sweet chocolate chips
Unwrap the caramels and place in a medium sized microwave-safe bowl with the water. Microwave on high about a minute. Stir and microwave in additional 20 or 30 second intervals until smooth.

Let it cool a bit, otherwise you'll have a melty runny mess on your hands. The bowl should be barely warm to the touch. Coat about 3/4 or the pretzel rod with the caramel - I find using a spoon to spread it around works best. If you find the caramel is getting too hard, just nuke it for a few seconds to loosen it up.

Roll the caramel dipped pretzel in your choice of toppings - you may need to gently press them into the caramel with your hands, because at the correct cooler temperature you'll find the caramel isn;t really all that sticky. Here I'm making Mini-M&M coated ones...

Lay them on a parchment lined tray or baking sheet - if you're just making this kind, pop them in your refrigerator for a few minutes to let them set up.

But if you like variety, here's the crushed Heath Bar method...

Again, kind of press them into the caramel...

I added some mini-chocolate chips to this one...

Lay them next to their cousins on the baking sheet.

Hello my beauties!

They really only need about ten minutes in the fridge to set up. Cooling them helps this next step set up quicker...the drizzling of chocolate! Mmmmm!!!

In two separate bowls melt about a half cup each of white chocolate chips and semi-sweet chocolate chips. Let them cool a bit - again, the bowls should barely be warm to the touch. Otherwise, your chocolate will be too warm and will actually soften the caramel.

Drizzle away! I found no need to let each type of chocolate set - they come out looking great all blended together.

Place them back on the parchment lined tray and pop in the fridge again until set. A half hour is good, but I've left them overnight and they were fine.

In a pinch, I wrapped mine in plastic wrap, tied with some ribbon and taped on a tag indicating what flavor. I didn't get a photo, but I found these great snack boxes at Target that looked like they were made for these things! Sort of an envelope style with a little cellophane window.

Our QC Manager hard at work....we await her response anxiously!

Whew! They are as good as they look!

Wishing you all the Happiest of Holidays!


Mama Goose said...

This looks like it could be really fun to do with the kids! Thanks!

5thsister said...

I did "Magic Wands" for Halloween and they were the hit of the party. I do like the idea of caramel and other gourmet toppings though. I'll have to try that out next! Your daughter is a cutie-patootie-beauty!